Think about it...when you dive in to your network of colleagues, customers, family, friends, business associates, etc...you will find that many of the people you interact with are members of Associations. Some are members of more than one and some often pay a yearly fee to be part of their Association.
I believe that people value their Association Networks, especially if they are paying a monthly or yearly membership to be part of them. Someone told me a long time ago that what one really values is something they pay for.
Professional Associations for lawyers, doctors, accountants, entrepreneurs, marketers, engineers and software developers are all around us and they are great places to target audiences for both consumer and business propositions.
I read recently that an Accounting Association in the USA claimed that it had over 1.5 million 'paid' members who earn an average of $187,000 per year. Not a bad demographic to be going after!
The other thing is that Associations - especially those that are well funded now have more robust websites and email communications as well as other marketing vehicles that can be leveraged to communicate your product offering to them. In these economic times, it's a good channel to target as people who pay a yearly membership, will certainly value anything that their Association is communicating to them.
Still, one needs to be smart about this. Not every Association has experience with Partnerships and not every Association is going to just let anyone target their member base with an offer. When looking to approach an Association, you need to think about the following:
1. How many members do they have and is it worth Partnering with them for their category?
2. What communications vehicles (web, email, etc...) will they make available for promotion to their member base?
3. Will your offering 'add value' to the Association and give their members something special that they might be looking for?
4. Is the Association a credible Association and are they good at marketing to their members?
5. What is the Association looking for from their Partners?
In our current economic environment, people are looking to network more than ever before and stay connected to those that have common interests or share a professional designation or simply work in a similar field. Offering up a strong value proposition to an Association and a great proposition for their Members can prove to be quite a cost effective channel for a business to acquire customers as the Association can leverage their existing communications to market your products and services. Also, it may provide you with a discreet marketing channel to Test certain offers before rolling them out!